precipitate

verb
pre·​cip·​i·​tate | \ pri-ˈsi-pə-ˌtāt How to pronounce precipitate (audio) \
precipitated; precipitating

Definition of precipitate

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to throw violently : hurl the quandaries into which the release of nuclear energy has precipitated mankind— A. B. Arons
b : to throw down
2 : to bring about especially abruptly precipitate a scandal that would end with his expulsion— John Cheever
3a : to cause to separate from solution or suspension
b : to cause (vapor) to condense and fall or deposit

intransitive verb

1a : to fall headlong
b : to fall or come suddenly into some condition
2 : to move or act with violent or unwise speed
3a : to separate from solution or suspension
b : to condense from a vapor and fall as rain or snow

precipitate

noun
pre·​cip·​i·​tate | \ pri-ˈsi-pə-tət How to pronounce precipitate (audio) , -ˌtāt\

Definition of precipitate (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a substance separated from a solution or suspension by chemical or physical change usually as an insoluble amorphous or crystalline solid
2 : a product, result, or outcome of some process or action

precipitate

adjective
pre·​cip·​i·​tate | \ pri-ˈsi-pə-tət How to pronounce precipitate (audio) \

Definition of precipitate (Entry 3 of 3)

1a : falling, flowing, or rushing with steep descent
2 : exhibiting violent or unwise speed

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Other Words from precipitate

Verb

precipitative \ pri-​ˈsi-​pə-​ˌtā-​tiv How to pronounce precipitative (audio) \ adjective
precipitator \ pri-​ˈsi-​pə-​ˌtā-​tər How to pronounce precipitator (audio) \ noun

Adjective

precipitately adverb
precipitateness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for precipitate

Adjective

precipitate, headlong, abrupt, impetuous, sudden mean showing undue haste or unexpectedness. precipitate stresses lack of due deliberation and implies prematureness of action. the army's precipitate withdrawal headlong stresses rashness and lack of forethought. a headlong flight from arrest abrupt stresses curtness and a lack of warning or ceremony. an abrupt refusal impetuous stresses extreme impatience or impulsiveness. an impetuous lover proposing marriage sudden stresses unexpectedness and sharpness or violence of action. flew into a sudden rage

Did You Know?

Adjective

Many people, including usage commentators, are insistent about keeping the adjectives "precipitate" and "precipitous" distinct. "Precipitate," they say, means "headlong" or "impetuous"; "precipitous" means only "steep." And, indeed, "precipitate" is used mostly in the "headlong" sense, whereas "precipitous" usually means "steep." But one shouldn't be too hasty about insisting on the distinction. The truth is that "precipitate" and "precipitous" have had a tendency to overlap for centuries. Lexicographer Samuel Johnson, in his dictionary of 1755, defined "precipitate" as "steeply falling," "headlong," and "hasty," while "precipitous" was "headlong; steep," and "hasty." Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary included much the same definitions. The words' etymologies overlap as well. Both ultimately come from Latin praeceps, which means "headlong."

Examples of precipitate in a Sentence

Verb

When Achilles is informed by his mother, the sea-goddess Thetis, that vanquishing Hector on the battlefield will precipitate his own demise, he unhesitatingly opts for the gusto. — Mark Leyner, Time, 13 Nov. 2000 The vast room darkens. The videotape … begins on two identical screens set high above the nave. The soaring lyrics of LeeAnn Rimes's "How Do I Live (Without You)" precipitate a collective tension and welling, repressed tearfulness. — Jayne Anne Phillips, Harper's, November 1998 Her death precipitated a family crisis. The budget problem was precipitated by many unexpected costs. minerals that precipitate from seawater

Noun

Yet trained, and by nature inclined, to persevere through the stenches, messes, explosions and disasters of a laboratory, he fixed his gaze upon an unlikely precipitate: human resilience, a sort of radioactive trace element. — Richard Eder, New York Times Book Review, 16 June 2002 the exodus from the cities was an unexpected precipitate of the automobile, which effectively shrank distances the chemist filtered out the precipitate from the solution

Adjective

The precipitate decline in support for Aristide has probably less to do with Haiti's political crisis than with the continuous and unrelenting economic battering: the Haitian gourde, which a year ago was trading at 27 to the dollar, by late February was down to 55 to the dollar. — Peter Dailey, New York Review of Books, 27 Mar. 2002 Almost at once I began to remember why drive-ins went into such a precipitate decline. To begin with, it is not remotely comfortable to sit in a car to watch a movie. — Bill Bryson, I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999 Assuming that the offering goes ahead—and only a precipitate slide in the stock market will stop it—a big slice of Wall Street history will disappear. — John Cassidy, New Yorker, 8 Mar. 1999 the army's precipitate withdrawal from the field of battle
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

That crisis, generally regarded as the worst economic slump since the Great Depression, precipitated when a housing bubble fueled by subprime mortgages went bust. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "What CEOs, Bankers, and Tech Execs Think About a Coming Recession," 29 July 2019 But when the two are mixed together, the chemicals combine in a way to precipitate out of the water. USA TODAY, "Ink library, parking barnacles, lunar training grounds: News from around our 50 states," 9 July 2019 But by the time the band formed in the mid-1980s the Valleys had endured decades of industrial decline, and Margaret Thatcher’s drive to shut down the remaining collieries precipitated unrest. Longreads, "Manic Street Preachers’ Album The Holy Bible," 25 June 2019 All this plus, naturally, the depression that had come with the divorce, which my parents had each done their share to precipitate, but which my father had not sought and did not accept. Justin Taylor, Harper's magazine, "What it Means to Be Alive," 10 June 2019 Now, new findings reported this week in the journal Nature Geoscience make the case that the effects of cloud loss are dramatic enough to explain ancient warming episodes like the PETM—and to precipitate future disaster. Natalie Wolchover, WIRED, "As the World Warms, Clouds Could Disappear—Catastrophically," 3 Mar. 2019 Think Finance had accused a hedge fund, Victory Park Capital Advisors, of cutting off its access to cash and precipitating bankruptcy filing. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, "Westland woman had 350% interest rate on $1,200 loan — and a loophole allows it," 12 July 2019 In Taxi Driver, Robert De Niro’s descent into psychosis — precipitated by the government’s near-total disregard for returning Vietnam veterans — is also fueled by Coca-Cola. Kaitlyn Tiffany, Vox, "Why Stranger Things is perfect for product promo," 3 July 2019 The Ann Ott School closed in 2007 after years of declining enrollment precipitated by Phoenix's program to relocate the neighborhood's families who were affected by noise from nearby Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Daniel González, azcentral, "Groups race to open migrant shelter at closed school in Phoenix as 100-degree heat arrives," 12 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Although, the dusty precipitate may be melting away with the morning sun, the snow may have left a lasting impression on our local record books. Jared Boyd, AL.com, "How weird is snow in Mobile? Well, Friday night's snow set a record," 9 Dec. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

This is all to the good, and better than a precipitate total withdrawal. The Editors, National Review, "Trump’s Afghan Escalation," 22 Aug. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'precipitate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of precipitate

Verb

1528, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Noun

1594, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1615, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for precipitate

Verb and Adjective

Latin praecipitatus, past participle of praecipitare, from praecipit-, praeceps — see precipice

Noun

New Latin praecipitatum, from Latin, neuter of praecipitatus — see precipitate entry 1

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Statistics for precipitate

Last Updated

2 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for precipitate

The first known use of precipitate was in 1528

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More Definitions for precipitate

precipitate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of precipitate

 (Entry 1 of 3)

formal : to cause (something) to happen quickly or suddenly
: to become separated from a liquid especially by a chemical process
: to cause (something solid) to become separated from a liquid especially by a chemical process

precipitate

noun

English Language Learners Definition of precipitate (Entry 2 of 3)

technical : a solid substance that is separated from a liquid especially by a chemical process

precipitate

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of precipitate (Entry 3 of 3)

formal : happening very quickly or too quickly without enough thought or planning

precipitate

verb
pre·​cip·​i·​tate | \ pri-ˈsi-pə-ˌtāt How to pronounce precipitate (audio) \
precipitated; precipitating

Kids Definition of precipitate

1 : to cause to happen suddenly or unexpectedly The misunderstanding precipitated a quarrel.
2 : to change from a vapor to a liquid or solid and fall as rain or snow
3 : to separate from a solution The procedure called for precipitating salt from seawater.

precipitate

verb
pre·​cip·​i·​tate | \ pri-ˈsip-ə-ˌtāt How to pronounce precipitate (audio) \
precipitated; precipitating

Medical Definition of precipitate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to bring about especially abruptly
2a : to cause to separate from solution or suspension
b : to cause (vapor) to condense and fall or deposit

intransitive verb

1 : to fall or come suddenly into some condition
2 : to separate from solution or suspension

precipitate

noun
pre·​cip·​i·​tate | \ pri-ˈsip-ət-ət, -ə-ˌtāt How to pronounce precipitate (audio) \

Medical Definition of precipitate (Entry 2 of 2)

: a substance separated from a solution or suspension by chemical or physical change usually as an insoluble amorphous or crystalline solid

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Comments on precipitate

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